It seems that everyone has a Twitter account. Whether it be a personal one, a small business one or a network of linked accounts from big businesses around the world, everyone seems to be on social media in some way or another. Or perhaps not. There does seem to be pockets of business, and also within our own industry, which seems to be resisting social media for some reason. Given the power of social media both personally and in business, I don’t believe any excuse for a business to not be on social media is now good enough.

Fear Of The Publicity

One of the main reasons I hear about businesses not joining social media, especially Twitter, is the fear of bad publicity. Companies are worried that if mistakes are aired out in public then the reputation of their business could suffer, and it turn lose them vital new business. And yes, that is a valid concern. I often see disgruntled members of our own industry going to Twitter to contact their suppliers to complain about product or service issues, perhaps if they get no joy over the phone or by email. Applying a bit of public pressure is to be expected. But as with any problem, it is how you deal with a problem that can actually turn a potentially bad situation into a good one.

Take for example the recent attack on Greggs, the pasty people, on their Wikipedia page. A hacker had changed their information and logo to read the following:

This quickly went viral and spread throughout all of social media quicker than you could eat one of their rather tasty cheese and onion pasties. Still, it was the way in which Greggs went about rectifying the problem and spinning it to their own advantage that made it truly amusing:

[xyz-ihs snippet=”Greggs1″] [xyz-ihs snippet=”Greggs2″] [xyz-ihs snippet=”Greggs3″]

This series of tweets and banter with Google, acknowledging then laughing at the issue with some clever product marketing meant they were able to turn a potentially problematic hack into a rather funny and neat social media campaign. The lesson here, don’t let the fear of bad press keep you away from social media, use it right and you can turn it into a positive.

It’s Expected Of You

I was speaking to a person not so long ago about social media and how they had tried to contact a rather large company via Twitter, but couldn’t find their official Twitter account. In the end it turned out that they hadn’t actually got a Twitter account at all. We were both surprised as the company in question (I’d love to tell you who it was but I have long since forgotten who it was!) was a rather large business and you wouldhave expected a company of that size to have one. And therein lies the other reason.

Small, medium or large, it is now expected by the general public that you have a social media account, usually either Twitter or Facebook or both. With many millions of us in the UK and around the world having at least one mobile device capable of using mobile data, social media is everywhere we go. We find out information on it. We look up people and companies on it. We view advertising on it. We interact with people and businesses on it. It has become a main method of communication, if not THE main way to communicate. So to not have is sort of like saying your company doesn’t have a phone. That’s how I see it.

“What, you don’t have a phone?” Sounds stupid doesn’t it. So does saying “sorry, we’re not on Twitter or Facebook.” With such easy access to the web and social media, it probably takes more effort to actively avoid it! The facts here are simple. If people want to contact a company, it’s highly likely they will try via Twitter or some other social media platform first. It’s quicker than phones or email. It’s accessible from anywhere and people are just used to using smartphones and tablets.

When it comes to business, customer service, announcements or anything else business related, social media works. You have to make it work for you, but it does work and it’s here to stay. To avoid it is to fight against inevitable change. Our industry isn’t immune to it, and thankfully most have embraced it and given it a good go. Some haven’t though. And until they do, they will continue to fall behind those who actively use it and make it work for them too.

Do you agree? Should social media be an active part of your business and marketing strategy? Can a business operate in a modern way without using social media? All comments welcome in the section below.